Sustainable Development

MADRID, Spain (PAMACC News) On the eve of a critical year for environmental decision-making, Colombia, Germany and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) today announced that Colombia will host World Environment Day 2020 in partnership with Germany and that it will focus on biodiversity.

World Environment Day takes place every year on 5 June. It is the United Nations’ flagship day for promoting worldwide awareness and action for the environment. Over the years, it has grown to be the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people in more than 100 countries.

Making the announcement on the margins of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP25) in Madrid, Spain, Ricardo Lozano, Colombia’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, Jochen Flasbarth, Germany’s State Secretary for Environment, and Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, stressed that with one million plant and animal species facing extinction, there has never been a more important time to focus on the issue of biodiversity.

“2020 is a year for urgency, ambition and action to address the crisis facing nature; it is also an opportunity to more fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UNEP. “Each year, World Environment Day is a powerful platform to accelerate, amplify and engage people, communities and governments around the world to take action on critical environmental challenges facing the planet. We are grateful to Colombia and Germany for demonstrating leadership in this effort.”

2020 is a critical year for nations’ commitments to preserving and restoring biodiversity, with China hosting the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Kunming. Next year also provides an opportunity to ramp up to the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), intended to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.

“In Colombia we will face an important challenge in 2020, and it is to host the 3rd and last OEWG [open-ended working group] meeting of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework before the COP in China. In Colombia, we are willing to work together to reach an agreement that allows us to move forward positively towards ambitious results in the COP that will meet us in China; we welcome Germany’s gesture of support in this global effort and look forward to a successful collaboration," said Ricardo Lozano, Colombia’s Environment Minister.

Listed as one of the world’s “megadiverse” countries and sustaining close to 10 per cent of the planet’s biodiversity, Colombia ranks first in bird and orchid species diversity and second in plants, butterflies, freshwater fish and amphibians. The country has several areas of high biological diversity in Andean ecosystems, with a significant variety of endemic species. It also has part of the Amazon rainforest and the humid ecosystems of the Chocó biogeographical area.

“There is no better time to come together for the planet than now,” said Jochen Flasbarth, Germany’s State Secretary for the Environment. “Climate action and biodiversity conservation are two sides of the same coin. We need to develop policies that stop the extinction of plant and animal species. Germany is pleased to support Colombia and other member states in making 2020 a year that kicks off action for biodiversity.”

According to a landmark report this year by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems are projected to undermine progress towards 80 per cent of the assessed targets of the Sustainable Development Goals related to poverty, hunger, health, sustainable consumption and production, water, cities, climate, oceans and land.


NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A new dawn is here. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD) has been renamed the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

The rationale behind the establishment of the African Union Development Agency is to ensure that it acts as a vehicle for the better execution of the African Union Agenda 2063, a 50 year common continental strategic framework to promote inclusive growth and support sustainable development by the year 2063.

“The transformation from NEPAD Agency to AUDA-NEPAD will be showcased from the start, in the difference we will be making through our new mandate…We embrace this transformation and I have full confidence that we are all ready for the task at hand,” says Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, AUDA-NEPAD Agency CEO.

With a renewed mandate to coordinate and execute priority regional and continental projects to promote regional integration towards the accelerated realisation of Agenda 2063,the Agency is not losing sight of the importance of sustainable environmental management and optimum utilisation of natural resources as a central pillar for Africa’s economic transformation.

“Since its creation, we have constantly integrated into each of our programmes, the sustainability and protection of our biodiversity. Since October 2001, with the launch of the Environment Initiative, mechanisms have been put in place to combat global warming, such as combating land degradation, wetland conservation, the sustainable conservation and use of marine and coastal resources, and the cross-border conservation and management of natural resources,” explains Dr. Mayaki.

As Dr. Mayaki puts it, the NEPAD’s founding framework and Environment Action Plan clearly recognisesa sustainable environment as a pre-requisite to achieving the continent’s overall goal of sustainable growth and development. It is worth noting therefore that this design is largely driven by the fact that African countries’ economies are agrarian in nature, heavily relying on natural resources sensitive sectors for growth.

As part of its core mandate, the AUDA-NEPAD contributes to strengthening the ability of member States and Regional Economic Communities to integrate climate change and sustainable development responses into national development processes. It has also been key in the provision of capacity building, financial and technical support in the areas of adaptation, technology development and finance; and their inter-linkages.

Concerning natural resources management, the Agency has been instrumental in promoting adaptive management, participatory decision making and sustainable financing through funds for ecosystems services management including tourism development and management.

One example of such initiatives is the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) which responds to the African Union mandate to bring 100 million hectares of degraded land into restoration by 2030, as expressed in the political declaration endorsed by the Africa Union in October 2015 for the creation of the umbrella Africa Resilient Landscapes Initiative (ARLI).

It complements the African Landscapes Action Plan (ALAP) and the broader Climate Change, Biodiversity and Land Degradation (LDBA) programme of the African Union. AFR100 contributes to the achievement of domestic restoration and sustainable development commitments, among many other targets.

The initiative directly contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Change Agreement. It builds on the experience and progress achieved through the TerrAfrica Partnership and related landscape restoration efforts.

Thus, at a recent Brand Awareness Drive in Nairboi, Kenya, the media were urged to popularize such positive milestones as NEPAD rebrands to the first ever African Union Development Agency.

This, it was highlighted should be done through not only highlighting its key focus areas but also how national governments and institutions should link themselves to the overall aspirations of ‘Agenda 2063:The Africa We Want.’

“This is the first ever African Union Development Agency,” said Mwanja Ng’anjo, AUDA-NEPAD Head of Communications. “As African media, we should be excited about this development for this is our own initiative as Africans. But most importantly, we should not leave the ordinary people behind as AUDA-NEPAD is mandated by the African Union Commission to deliver on Africa’s development aspirations. I do firmly believe that everyone has a role to play in building ‘The Africa We Want.’ We are here to learn from you as media on how we can together take forward Africa’s agenda by setting a positive development narrative for the continent.”

In outlining the key focus areas of AUDA-NEPAD, Martin Bwalya, Head of Industrialization, emphasized the importance of sustainable environmental management and natural resources governance as a central pillar for the continent’s development aspirations.

“Our key focus areas are strengthened Institutions and Human Capital, Industrialisation, Economic Integration and last but not the least, Natural Resources Governance and Environmental Sustainability,” saidMr. Bwalya. “In fact, we consider sustainable environmental governance as a foundation because we cannot talk of industrialisation without optimum utilisation of our natural resources as a continent; similarly economic growth cannot happen in vacuum without sustainable environmental management. It is not a secret that we are well endowed with plenty natural resources but key is how we manage these resources in a balancing act to keep sustaining usin our quest to achieve our aspirations as espoused in agenda 2063.”

While these efforts are aimed at providing African Union Member States with innovative development and implementation capacities for viable natural resources management, there is a caveat that desired impact would only come about through strengthened linkages with national institutions.

“Inclusive growth and sustainable development cannot be achieved in a vacuum, therefore, operating at national, regional and continental levels, the clear value is not necessarily staying in there but linking it to where it maters the most, impact oriented results for the people at national level,” noted Mr. Bwalya.

And the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA), the country’s principal regulator of the environment, agrees with the importance of linking national institutions to continental aspirations, especially on sustainable environmental management and natural resources governance.

“We believe the environmentis a shared resource and therefore its management should also be a shared responsibility,” says Irene Lungu Chipili, ZEMA Manager, Corporate Affairs. “We have so much in common as Africans and similarly, we have a lot of trans-boundary natural resources which require responsible management. Thus, linking national institutions to the larger mandate of the African Union and its development Agency broadens our perspectives and opens up opportunities for collaboration across borders to sustainably manage our natural resources and the environment.”

Amidst heightened impacts of climate change and with a focus on strengthening agriculture, fostering food and nutrition security,improving environmental governance, as well as facilitating the adoption of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies, AUDA-NEPAD CEO, Dr Mayaki believes theintegrated approach that the Agency has takenagainst global warming, is key.

“The latest United Nations Climate Summit highlighted the differences in approach between polluting countries, major industrial powers and countries suffering the consequences, particularly those in Africa. AUDA-NEPAD, in its DNA, has this environmental dimension,” says Dr. Mayaki.

“We are passionately committed to the protection of biodiversity, the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources, water security and renewable energies. In concrete terms, by 2023, the proportion of land used in an eco-sustainable manner must reach at least 30% of the total. Trans-boundary natural resources will now have to be integrated as natural capital in the negotiations. Water security requires better management of rainwater and irrigation, including the promotion of the use of recycled wastewater for agricultural or industrial purposes. In addition, we will support all actions to reduce the share of fossil fuels in total energy production to minus 20% and to increase the share of renewable energies in total energy production by at least 10%.”

This illustration of the objectives to be achieved by 2023 shows the African Union’s commitment to building environmentally sustainable and climate-resilient economies and communities, as called for in Goal 7 of Agenda 2063.

AUDA-NEPAD thus requires national governments and institutional support in its efforts to advance knowledge-based advisory support, undertake the full range of resource mobilisation, and serve as the continent’s technical interface with all Africa’s development stakeholders and development partners.
The author is Principal Information and Communications Officer at ZEMA; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


DODOMA, Tanzania (PAMACC News) - Mention of the word El Niño sends shivers to several communities in Africa who live in lowland areas. However, these extreme rainfall phenomena are exactly what Dodoma desperately needs to sustain lives of the speedy growing population in Tanzania’s capital city.

A team of local and international scientists from Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and University College London (UCL) in collaboration with the Ministry of Water and Irrigation including the WamiRuvu Basin Water Board have been studying the Makutapora well-field (the only source of water for Dodoma city) to understand how the groundwater responds to different climatic conditions and human consumption.

“Through our research, we are seeking to understand groundwater resources in Makutapora, the renewability, the sustainability and critically how people use this precious resource,” said Richard Taylor, a Professor of Hydrogeology at the UCL and the Principal Investigator for a project known as GroFutures.

And after a few years of intensive research, the scientists have discovered that the well-field found in an area mainly characterised by usually seasonal rivers, vegetation such as acacia shrubs, cactus trees, baobab among others that thrive in dryland areas can only be recharged during extreme floods that often destroy agricultural crops and even property.

Dodoma became Tanzania’s capital city in 1974, though the administrative offices remained in Dar Es Salaam. Given a fact that the entire Dodoma region is semi-arid with an average annual rainfall of 550 mm, the current population of about 500,000 residents entirely rely on groundwater from the Makutapora well-field, from which they pump out 61 million litres of water every day, according to government records.

However, since 2016 when President John Pombe Magufuli issued an executive order to relocate all government ministries and institutions as well as diplomatic offices from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the city has become a beehive of activities as people and authorities rush to put in place the right infrastructure to accommodate the expected rise in population.

As a result, the demand for water is expected to rise amid the changing climatic conditions, putting much more pressure on the Makutapora well-field.

“Makutapora is quite a special site, given that it is the longest known groundwater level record in Sub Saharan Africa,” said Prof Taylor. “A study of the well-field over the past 60 years reveals that recharge sustaining the daily pumping of water for use in Dodoma city occurs episodically and depends on heavy seasonal rainfall associated with El Niño Southern Oscillation,” said the professor.

So far, according to the loggers (data registering equipments) installed in several monitoring wells within the Makurapora basin, the water level has been declining since 2016 when positive recharge was recorded following the 2015-16 El Niño rains.  The scientists attribute the decline to heavy abstraction of the water for domestic use, but also, they are in the process of finding out if tough climatic conditions, changes and variations could be another factor.

“In the end of the year 2015, we installed river stage gauges to record the amount of water in the streams. Through this, we can monitor an hourly resolution of the river flow and how the water flow is linked to groundwater recharge,” said Dr David Seddon, a research scientist from UCL.

According to Lister Kongola, a retired hydrologist who worked for the government from 1977 to 2012, the demand for water in Dodoma has been rising over the years, from 20 million litres in the 1970s, to 30 million in the 80s and to the current 61 million litres per day at the moment.

“With most government offices now relocating from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma, the establishment of the University of Dodoma and other institutions of higher learning, health institutions, and emergence of several hotels in the city, the demand is likely going to double in the coming few years.

With the Trans-African Highway from Cape Town to Cairo crossing through Dodoma, it means that the city could soon become an important tourism destination.

Already, President Magufuli has issued 62 land title deeds for construction of diplomatic missions and five others to accredited global organisations to facilitate the shift from Dar Es Salaam to Dodoma.

“The ongoing study is a stitch in time,” said Kongola. “Based on the results, the government will be in a position to make informed decisions on whether to keep abstracting water only from Makutapora or find supplementary sources of water to meet the ever growing demand,” he said.

One of the alternative options would be to construct dams and also explore alternative sites with reliable aquifers. The other option is to pump water all the way from Lake Victoria which is over 600 kilometres away from Dodoma.

The good news, however, is that seasons with El Niño kind of rainfall are predictable. “By anticipating these events, we can actually amplify them through some very minimal but strategic engineering intervention that might allow us to actually increase the amount of water replenishment in the well-field,” said Prof Taylor.



NAIROBI, Kenya (PAMACC News) - A recent study by scientists from the Kenya Markets Trust (KMT) has shown that temperatures in all the drylands had risen in the past 50 years, with devastating impact particularly on cattle and some food crops.

These findings coincided with a new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) released on the same day showing that the world is off track to meet most food and agriculture-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), with more than half of local livestock breeds at risk of extinction.

According to the Kenyan study, which was commissioned by the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) — through the Pathways to Resilience in Semi-arid Economies (PRISE), changes in climatic conditions were driving pastoral communities into dire poverty.

“In all the 21 counties, we observed a 25.2 percent decline in cattle population between 1977 and 2016 on average, with Turkana County alone recording a devastating loss of about 60 percent in the same period, and this is directly linked to the increased heat,” said Dr Mohammed Yahya Said, the Lead Investigator and a consulting scientist at the KMT.

These findings correspond with the FAO global report which shows that on average, 60 percent of local livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in the 70 countries that had risk status information. “Specifically, across the world, out of 7155 local livestock breeds, 1940 are considered to be at risk of extinction. Examples include the Fogera cattle from Ethiopia or the Gembrong goat of Bali,” FAO reported.

It notes that this could be even higher as for two thirds of the local livestock breeds, especially in Africa, the Middle and Near East and Asia, there is no data on the animals' risk status.  
According to Dr Said, changes in temperatures in Kenya are directly responsible for reduction of cattle population. “Our study found out that five counties have already surpassed the 1.5˚C mark, and such high temperatures are never good particularly for livestock,” he said.

The counties with the highest rise in temperatures include West Pokot and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties, which have recorded an increase of 1.91° C in the past 50 years, while Turkana and Baringo have both recorded (1.8° C) increase, Laikipia (1.59° C) and Narok (1.75° C) in the same period.

As a result of such occurrences, FAO reports that hunger is on the rise in many countries worldwide. “More than 820 million people are still hungry today,” says the report.

The number of hungry people in the world according to the UN has been on the rise for three years in a row, and is back to levels seen in 2010-2011. In parallel, the percentage of hungry people out of the total population has slightly increased, from 10.6 percent in 2015 to 10.8 percent in 2018.

Further, according to the UN, small-scale food producers - who represent the majority of all farmers in many developing countries - face disproportionate challenges in accessing inputs and services, and as a result, their incomes and productivity are systematically lower compared to larger food producers.

Even more badly, the UN report also warns of "no progress in conserving animal genetic resources and notes that ongoing efforts to preserve these resources appear inadequate". For example, less than one percent of local livestock breeds across the world have enough genetic material stored that would allow the breed to be reconstituted in case of extinction.

However, the conservation of plant genetic material was found to be faring on somewhat better.

At the end of 2018, global holdings of plant genetic materials conserved in gene banks in 99 countries and 17 regional and international centers totaled 5.3 million samples - a nearly three percent increase over the previous year. This is mainly due, however, to the transfer of existing materials to better, indicator-compliant storage facilities, rather than a reflection of newly added diversity collected from the field.

Efforts to secure crop diversity continue to be insufficient, caution the report, particularly for crop wild relatives, wild food plants and neglected and underutilized crop species.
However, according to KMT scientists, there is evidence that the Arabica coffee for example is getting extinct in Kenya and Ethiopia, while the yield from Robusta variety is going to more than double by the year 2050.

“These are very important findings for the country especially now that we are working towards the realization of the ‘Big Four’ development agenda,” said Mwangi Harry Gioche, the Director of Agriculture Research and Innovation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock Fisheries and Irrigation during the dissemination of the findings of the Kenyan study.

This tenure transition has been driven by a number of factors including land tenure reforms, and market and demographic changes. Population pressure is also creating more consciousness around land in the ASALs and this is translating into emerging tensions around ownership and use. Options such as integrated land management can help take into account both pastoralists’ needs, as well as emerging forms of more intensified livestock investments by establishing land use zones that allow both free movements of large herds as well as livestock intensification under private land tenure. Land zoning can be facilitated through appropriate enabling policies and spatial planning processes.

Such integrated frameworks should provide security to pastoralists and enable them to negotiate for various financial, livelihood and technological opportunities in light of climatic shocks and changing tenure regimes.

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